Black Lives Matter
I had promised to begin laying out the pathway for Reintegration in this update, beginning with a basic explanation of what it means for Better Life to be a FCRP (Faith Community Integration Project), but I want to hit pause on that for a moment to reflect on the historical moment we're currently witnessing.
I'll begin by acknowledging that I grew up white and privileged in Vancouver, BC, Canada, and I have no firsthand understanding of what African Americans are experiencing, nor of the racial injustices other people in North America experience.
Over the past weeks, I've realized I need to listen and have a posture of recognizing not only just how much I don't understand, but that if I don’t understand, I can’t take meaningful action—which, ultimately, is what I want to do.
Here are some of the valuable voices that have guided me to that realization and helped me start to listen and learn:
Dr. Clint Smith, an African American writer, teacher, and researcher, speaking in this TED radio podcast episode
A number of books, including:
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
And "How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change" by Barak Obama on Medium
Now, you may be asking why I’m sharing resources and dedicating this edition to #blacklivesmatter. Here's my motive:
Better Life Integration & Support Society is all about justice.
Not the limited view of justice that calls for exacting "an eye for an eye," but true justice that recognizes the immeasurable worth of every human being.
The work of Better Life—the vocation, even—is all about supporting true justice and, most significantly, justice within the practice of faith.
Let me be clear: Better Life exists to help people from all faith backgrounds find community within their faith community.
But at the same time, I practice, communicate, and lead out of my faith as a devoted follower of Jesus. And this is what's so significant for me when it comes to our current cultural reality. It's what has far-reaching influence on the work we do with men and women and faith communities as Better Life.
It’s as simple and complex as this: Jesus—who from the Christian perspective is the Son of God come into the world to suffer and die for humankind so that, in and through Him, we can experience the love, forgiveness, and grace of God—said:
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
Injustice is rampant in so many parts of our world, and the atrocities that have been committed against African Americans in the United States just over the past few weeks alone have been heart wrenching.
I want to be a part of the solution. Better Life wants to be a part of the solution, as we help men and women who have been incarcerated to experience being a productive and contributing member of their community.
I definitely don’t have all the answers, other than to say: Jesus gives us a model, a way to listen, and a way to love, a way to engage with everyone around us.
I recommit myself, along with our chaplains at Better Life, to continue to engage with others—all others, inclusive of every race, sex, and faith background—from a posture of serving, as we continue to listen and learn from their experiences.
And, particularly in this moment, I want to affirm that Black Lives Matter.
General Director | Lead Chaplain